Growth and teat ownership in a litter of binturongs


  • Patricia A. Schoknecht

    Corresponding author
    1. Conservation and Research Center, National Zoological Park, Front Royal, Virginia
    • Department of Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061
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Teat ownership has been hypothesized to reduce competition among littermates and has been documented in several species. This study was conducted at the Conservation and Research Center to determine if competition and ownership occurred in the binturong (Arctictis binturong). One litter of four cubs was observed for 2 h, three times per day for 16 wk. Cubs showed definite teat preferences, but no exclusive ownership. Competition, as measured by teat fighting, occurred most frequently for the inguinal pair of mammae. The cubs that suckled most frequently on the inguinal teats had a faster growth rate after day 45. Thus, based on suckle frequency, fight frequency, and growth rates, binturong cubs prefer the inguinal pair of teats.